10 March Tussles Worth Watching

By Tim Leidecker Mar 5, 2010
Welcome back to the monthly list for MMA fans interested in looking beyond the major promotions. Once again we will take you on a journey throughout the indie leagues worldwide, making stops in North and South America, Asia and four different European countries. That way, you can keep an eye on the talent rising through the ranks of the minor leagues long before the fighters end up in the big show.

As always, the list does not focus on the major bouts you already know to watch but rather on fights from all over the planet that are worth seeing. Fights from the UFC, Strikeforce, WEC, SRC and Dream are excluded by design.

10. Fernando Vieira vs. Martin Svensson
The Zone FC 6 “Evolution” -- March 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden

With an opponent for rising star and designated headliner Hamid Corassani not yet confirmed, the current marquee matchup at The Zone’s sixth effort is this bout for the promotion’s vacant featherweight title. Frontier MMA’s 6-foot-1 Svensson is one of the tallest 145-pounders in the game, and Viera is a BJJ world champion and teammate of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Can Svensson exploit his home field advantage or will the game BJJ black belt be too big of a challenge for the young Swede?

9. Andre Reinders vs. Patrick Kincl
Hell Cage 5 -- March 28 in Prague, Czech Republic

There was a time in 2006-07 when Andre Reinders was considered one of the best middleweights in Europe. With strong wins over Jean-Francois Lenogue, Steve Mensing and Nordin Asrih, the Czech striker gained a good deal of respect from the hardcore fans. A rough spell with only two wins in seven matches has somewhat derailed the Reinders train, however. Pitted in a four-man tournament against David Marcina, Tomas Kuzela and his semifinal opponent Patrick Kincl, the 28-year-old will try to regain his form and reputation.

8. Angelo Sanchez vs. Richard Montano
King of the Cage “Native Warriors” -- March 6 in Pojoaque, New Mexico

The one-horse town of Pojoaque will play host to the finest bantamweight confrontation stateside outside of the WEC this month. Even though his KOTC strap will not be up for grabs, champion Angelo Sanchez will have a lot of pride on the line Saturday: He hails from Santa Fe, which is just a 20-minute drive from the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino where the event takes place. Montano has been in there with some of the best in his weight class, and he fought five rounds with Dream vet Abel Cullum last year. He is certain to push Sanchez to the limit.

7. Paul Sass vs. Jason Young
OMMAC 4 “Victorious” -- March 6 in Liverpool, England

Liverpool hometown boy Paul Sass was championed in an article on this very Web site last summer as one of the top five young talents in Europe. Even though the 21-year-old was not able to extend his remarkable streak of 10 wins in a row via triangle choke (dating back to his days as an amateur), he has been able to keep his unbeaten record intact with two more solid wins over Ian Jones and the tough-as-nails Rob Sinclair. Cage Rage veteran Jason Young will try to take his OMMAC lightweight championship title.

6. Hitomi Akano vs. Hiroko Yamanaka
Jewels “7th Ring” -- March 19 in Tokyo, Japan

Female promotion Jewels is quickly starting to fill the huge shoes its predecessor, Smackgirl, left as the premier ladies’ organization in the business. In the main event of its seventh effort, Jewels is pitting top 10 bantamweight Hitomi Akano against Hiroko Yamanaka in a rematch. In April 2008, Akano armbarred Yamanaka for her lone career defeat. Will the cerebral and durable Yamanaka be able to grind out the ‘W’ this time and get revenge?

5. Giovani Diniz vs. Paulo Goncalves Silva
Shooto Brazil 15 -- March 19 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil, the mother country of “vale tudo,” has been churning out a glut of events for the past couple of months. Spurred by the success of their top aces Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, numerous fighters are trying to make it to the big time. Two of them are Nova Uniao’s Giovani Diniz and Tata Fight Team’s Paulo "Bananada." The pair met in January 2009 when Diniz walked away with a razor-thin split decision. This time, Bananada, a product of the infamous Rio Heroes circuit, is looking to finish his opponent and grab Shooto’s South American title in the process.

4. Steve Bruno vs. Reggie Pena
AFL “Rumble at the Rock 2” -- March 5 in Hollywood, Florida

Even though Dhafir “Da Da 5000” Harris, Kimbo Slice 2.0, will make his MMA debut on this card, the most intriguing tussle for the purists takes place between American Top Team’s Steve Bruno and highly rated Florida prospect Reggie Pena. Bruno, a former Spirit MC middleweight champion and three-time UFC veteran, has made the AFL his home after being cut by Zuffa following two decision losses. Pena, who fought just once last year after suffering his first defeat in six fights in December 2008, will be looking to make a name for himself by knocking out “Hollywood.”

3. Masakatsu Ueda vs. Shuichiro Katsumura
Shooto “The Way of Shooto 2” -- March 22 in Tokyo, Japan

Ueda is threatening to go the distance for the eighth consecutive time as he looks to make the fourth defense of his Shooto 132-pound title. While one can have a low opinion about his tactics that put control before everything else, his success inside the ring proves him right. After an unsuccessful stint in K-1, submission specialist Shuichiro Katsumura has returned to Shooto and is looking to hunt down the champion. Ueda will have to be on top of his game to shut down Katsumura, who is equipped with a full arsenal of chokes and locks.

2. Denis Kang vs. Vernon White
Warrior-1 MMA “Bad Blood” -- March 20 in Montreal, Canada

Experience is the name of the game as 47-fight veteran Denis Kang takes on 61-fight vet Vernon White in the main event of Warrior-1’s fourth show. After looking like a genuine superstar during his stint in Pride in 2006, Vancouver’s Kang has gone .500 over his last eight fights. Even though White is just .250 over the same stretch of time, a fighter with as much experience as the former Ken Shamrock understudy is always dangerous. White will be moving down to middleweight for this fight.

1. Bruno Carvalho vs. Vitor Nobrega
World Freefight Challenge “Night of Champions” -- March 27 in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Arguably the greatest “indie” fight of the month takes place in tiny Slovenia, an ex-Yugoslavian country that is sandwiched between Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy. WFC, the biggest organization in southern Europe, is celebrating its 10 event with a mega fight that pits its champion Bruno Carvalho against KSW titleholder Vitor Nobrega in one of the biggest interpromotional clashes in European MMA history. Which of these two top-class BJJ players will reign supreme and make their promoter proud in this battle of Euro MMA powerhouses?
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